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When did New Jersey legalize gay marriage?

The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights has been a long and complex journey, with milestones achieved over the years in the areas of marriage equality and anti-discrimination measures. One of those milestones was achieved on October 21, 2013, when same-sex marriage rights in New Jersey became legally recognized. In this blog post, we will explore the history of marriage equality in New Jersey and how the state finally legalized gay marriage.

A Brief History of Marriage Equality in New Jersey

The journey towards marriage equality in New Jersey started in 1993, when the state passed a law that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In 2002, the state’s Supreme Court ruled in Watkins v. Nelson that same-sex couples were entitled to the same legal rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples, but it stopped short of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

In 2003, seven same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, seeking to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. The court ruled in their favor, but the decision was appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Lewis v. Harris that the state must provide equal protection under the law to same-sex couples, but it left it up to the state legislature to determine how to provide equal protection.

Following the Lewis v. Harris decision, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Civil Union Act in 2006, which gave same-sex couples all the same legal rights, benefits, and protections as married couples. However, civil unions were not the same as marriage, and same-sex couples still faced discrimination in things like hospital visitation and health insurance coverage.

The Road to Legalization

In 2010, a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. The case, Garden State Equality v. Dow, argued that denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the New Jersey Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

In 2012, a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional. Governor Chris Christie appealed the decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court, who ultimately decided not to hear the case and referred it back to the Superior Court.

In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal law. This decision had a significant impact on the Garden State Equality v. Dow case, as it removed one of the arguments that the state had used to justify its ban on same-sex marriage.

In September 2013, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, stating that “the ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts.”

Governor Chris Christie appealed the decision to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, but his appeal was denied. He then appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the case, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.


On October 21, 2013, same-sex marriage rights in New Jersey became legally recognized. This was a significant milestone for LGBTQ+ rights in the state, as it finally allowed same-sex couples to enjoy the same legal rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples. While the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over, the legalization of gay marriage in New Jersey was a major step in the right direction.


When were civil unions legalized in New Jersey?

Civil unions were first legalized in New Jersey on December 14, 2006, through the passage of a bill by the state’s Legislature. The Civil Union Act was then duly signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine on December 21, 2006. This was a historic event in New Jersey’s history because it made the state the third in the country to officially recognize civil unions, after Vermont and Connecticut.

As stipulated by the Civil Union Act, civil unions would be recognized as legally valid and binding relationships between same-sex couples, conferring upon them similar rights and responsibilities to those enjoyed by married couples under New Jersey law. These rights included hospital visitation, inheritance rights, and the ability to make important medical decisions for a partner.

After the passage of the bill, there was a period of transition and preparation, during which the state’s various agencies were trained to implement the new law. Finally, on February 19, 2007, the Civil Union Act officially came into effect, creating a legal framework within which same-sex couples in New Jersey could enter into civil unions.

While the introduction of civil unions in New Jersey marked an important step forward for LGBTQ+ rights in the state, it was not without controversy. Some felt that the law did not go far enough in recognizing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples, arguing that civil unions were not equivalent to marriage. This led to a continued push for marriage equality in the state, which was finally achieved when the state’s Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the New Jersey State Constitution.

What is law on marriage in New Jersey?

Marriage is a legal institution that grants various legal rights and responsibilities to couples. In New Jersey, there are certain laws and regulations in place that govern the process of getting married and the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

One of the first things to know is that you must have a marriage license to marry in New Jersey. This means that you and your partner need to apply for and obtain a license from the local Registrar of Vital Statistics. To do this, you will need to provide identification, proof of residency (if applicable), and pay a fee. If you are under the age of 18, you will need parental consent to obtain a license.

It is also important to note that there is no such thing as a common law marriage in New Jersey. This means that simply living together and presenting yourselves as a married couple is not sufficient to be legally recognized as such. Instead, you must obtain a marriage license and go through the formal process of getting married.

In terms of age requirements, you must be at least 18 years old to marry in New Jersey without parental consent. If you are between the ages of 16 and 18, you can get married with parental consent. However, regardless of your age, you must wait 72 hours after obtaining the license before getting married.

Another important consideration is that there is no blood test required in New Jersey. This used to be a common requirement in many states, but it has been discontinued in many places, including New Jersey.

Finally, it is worth noting that there are no residency requirements for getting married in New Jersey. This means that you do not need to be a resident of the state to get married there. However, if you do get married in New Jersey, your marriage will be recognized in other states and countries, provided that it meets their respective legal requirements.

The law on marriage in New Jersey requires a marriage license, has no common law marriage, requires those under 18 to have parental consent, has a waiting period of 72 hours, no blood test is required, and there are no residency requirements.

What is a civil union partner in NJ?

Sure, in New Jersey, a civil union is a legally recognized relationship between two individuals of the same sex. It was introduced in 2006 as a way to provide legal recognition to same-sex couples, as marriage was not yet legal for them in the state. However, since the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey in 2013, civil unions are no longer issued. Existing civil unions can be converted to marriages or dissolved through the same legal processes as marriages.

A civil union partner, therefore, is a person in a civil union with another person of the same sex. This relationship provides many of the same legal rights and protections that marriage confers. These include rights related to inheritance, property ownership, and medical decision-making.

In terms of employee benefits, civil union partners are treated similarly to spouses. For example, in New Jersey, a state employee who enters into a civil union may be eligible to enroll their partner in the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP) or the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP). Similarly, a retiree may be eligible to continue health benefits coverage for their civil union partner after retirement.

It’s worth noting that civil unions aren’t recognized in every state, and some only recognize them for certain purposes, such as employment benefits. So, if you’re in a civil union or considering entering into one, it’s important to understand the legal landscape in the state you’re in and seek legal advice if necessary.